For 46 years, Scooby-Doo and the gang have been traveling the world in the Mystery Machine solving wild capers, thwarting villainous plans, and entertaining generations upon generations of children on Saturday mornings. Through the decades Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby have undergone various changes in personality and design; some have been better received than others; some have included new characters, but still, mystery and comedy have always been an integral part of the show. With the most recent incarnation of America's favorite mystery solving team, Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!, premiering on Cartoon Network this fall, the question surfaces: Which version is the best? Gang, let's split up and find some clues! We've got a mystery to solve! And don't forget the Scooby Snacks...
9. Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!
Sometimes the saying "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" rings true, and this notion is extremely obvious in the forgettable 2006 series, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!, where the rest of the gang is downgraded to cameos. Don't get me wrong, I love Shaggy and Scooby being goofy and eating ridiculous amounts of delicious food, but what makes Scooby-Doo a memorable and engaging franchise is its ensemble cast. There is something for everyone. Velma is the brainy, underrated underdog, while Daphne is the polar opposite. She is beautiful and bold, which makes the leader, Fred, a perfect match for her as he is intelligent and enthusiastic. Scooby and Shaggy are the comic relief, but this incarnation does nothing to juxtapose the absurdity that those two scaredy cats bring if there is no gang present.
8. Scooby-Doo and Scrappy Doo
The fourth rebirth of the Scooby-Doo franchise was the last to use the well known studio laugh track. This was a good choice as most people do not like to be told when to laugh. Unfortunately, good old Scoobert was teamed up with one of the most despised characters in Crystal Cove, Scrappy-Doo. Perhaps it is his grating voice, or maybe his tenacity for battle; whatever it was that made this pup hated among fans surely did not save ratings or help the formula. In 2002's live-action movie, Scooby-Doo, Scrappy-Doo became the villain, and this seems to appease many moviegoers and fans alike. Puppy power!
7. A Pup Named Scooby-Doo
A Pup Named Scooby-Doo followed the trend of "babyfication" that proceeded with older cartoon shows. In this version, the gang was part of the Scooby-Doo Detective Agency located in Coolsville and attended junior high. For the first time in a decade, Fred and Velma made a triumphant return as series regulars and Scrappy-Doo was abolished forever. This series was very entertaining, as the humor was satirical and implausible. This incarnation also gave us the character Red Herring, who provided so much unintentional comic relief. This series lasted four seasons and proved to resonate with its young viewers.
6. Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!
This is the latest re-envisioning of the gang at Mystery Inc. and it is obvious that it is attempting to cash in on the age group that grew up watching minimalist animated shows like Adventure Time, Regular Show, and Rick & Morty. The comedy takes center stage in this all-new rendition of Scooby and the gang, and despite its unoriginal art concept it is actually a very funny show. Disney's successful show Gravity Falls paved the way for this project being greenlit, and it makes sense to mix the mystery of the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! and the dry humor of Bob's Burgers. Be sure to catch this hilarious show on Cartoon Network!
5. The Scooby-Doo Show
Truly, the first nostalgic entry on our quest to solve this mystery is The Scooby-Doo Show. This installment lasted a total of 40 episodes, making it one of the longest running versions. The only downside to The Scooby-Doo Show was its introduction of Scooby-Dum, Scooby's cousin. His name says it all: he was just plain dumb! This franchise capitalizes on its formulaic, by the numbers storylines. Every episode is its own entity, usually introducing an obscure and little exposed character that turns out to be the culprit! Sure, it isn't rocket science, and sometimes their motives make no sense, but this horror comedy gem for children is a guilty pleasure!
4. The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo
Creepers! This is by far one of the most interesting and captivating premises Scooby has ever tackled. This version begins when Shaggy, Scooby, and Daphne, en route to Hawaii, mysteriously crashing in the Himalayan mountains. There the goofy trio are tricked by two ghosts, Weerd and Bogel, into opening the ghastly Chest of Demons. The chest holds the 13 most evil monsters to roam the Earth and they can only be returned to their imprisonment by those who released them. Along for the ride are Flim Flam, a con artist, and Vincent Van Ghoul, voiced by the legendary Vincent Price! This series abandoned the previous formula and included a 13 episode arc that built on the story on a weekly basis. The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo has real monsters instead of bad guys in masks making it one of the most surreal and thrilling outings for the gang!
3. Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
Who could forget that rambunctious theme, "Scooby-Dooby Doo, where are you? We got some work to do now. Scooby-Dooby Doo, where are you? We need some help from you now!" This was the original that started it. It was creepy, it was atmospheric, and it boasted entertaining capers and wonderful '70s music. It is inarguably the darkest version of the series where humor took a backside to horror and mystery. It also lacked back story, exposition, and development; but I think that is what made it charming. The show was meant to be fun and spooky. And zoinks! It worked!
2. What's New, Scooby-Doo!
After a decade long hiatus from television, the Mystery Incorporated gang returned to television in this tongue-in-cheek, highly energetic incarnation that took cues from the classic Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! This modern entry catapulted Scooby and his friends into the new millennium after a slew of straight to DVD movies in the '90s. Jinkies! I grew up watching this version along with the older ones on Cartoon Network and its sister channel, Boomerang. This version gave us The Hex Girls and more realistic mysteries. Oh, and let's not forget that totally awesome Simple Plan theme song!
1. Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated
"And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!" Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated is the epitome of everything a Scooby-Doo series should be. It is funny without trying too hard, it is engaging by providing a narrative and seasonal story arc, and lastly it takes the franchise back to basics while adding a touch of modernism. Lasting a whopping 52 episodes, this incarnation is the longest running rendition of the series, and with good reason! Mystery, Inc. returns to the early days of Scooby and the gang as they solve mysteries in their home town. Episode by episode, new mysteries are solved, while uncovering a grander, more sinister plan that eventually is solved at the end of the season and opens a new question for the following year. This version is a love letter not only to the franchise, but to the mythology, and the horror genre as well. Not only does it borrow from the original by deconstructing its tropes and absurdities, the show also manages to pay homages to classics like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Twin Peaks, modern horror films like Saw, and literary works by H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King. This epic is a must-see for Scooby fans and horror aficionados alike!
Like... groovy! We solved this mystery! Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated is the greatest reincarnation of the Hanna-Barbera franchise due to its perfect balance between classic and modern horror comedy. Now, how about a Scooby Snack old buddy, old pal, old friend?